The No. 8 Tennessee softball team (34-10, 11-7 SEC) has a doubleheader matchup with the Tennessee State University softball team (10-24, 3-13 OVC) on Wednesday inside of Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.
The Lady Vols are coming off a 2-1 SEC series loss this past weekend and they look to rebound from an 8-0 result on Sunday against No. 22 Georgia. It was the second time the Tennessee softball team has been run-ruled this season. It happened earlier in an 8-0 contest against then No. 4 Florida.
“When you get beat like that the worst thing you can do is offer excuses,” Co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. “We have lost 8-0 games before … I do not expect this team to fold.”
This past weekend marks the largest negative run differential the Lady Vols had in a series all year. It was due to the Lady Vols giving up six runs or more in all three games against Georgia.
“We have to do a better job (pitching) and that is all there is to it,” Ralph Weekly said. “ This game starts with pitching, that is why it is called fast pitch.”
Ashley Rogers went 1-1 this past weekend and now has a 17-3 record in her freshman season. Coming into Wednesday, she has pitched 131.1 innings and struck out 154 batters this season.
Caylan Arnold was credited with the loss on Sunday to give her an 8-5 record in 2019. She was also credited with a save this weekend, her first of the season. She has struck out 65 batters in 61.1 innings pitched so far this season.
Wednesday presents an opportunity for the Tennessee offense to get back on track too after averaging three runs a game this weekend. That is well below their 6.56 season average.
“Not what I (planned) to see (this weekend), but I saw tons of effort,” Co-head coach Ralph Weekly said.
The offense starts with leadoff hitter Aubrey Leach. The senior, with a career .383 average, went cold in both losses this weekend, going a combined 0-5 from the plate with two walks. In the win, she was 2 for 4 with two runs scored.
Haley Bearden has provided production from the middle of the line-up and was the offensive star this past weekend. Against Georgia, she went 5 for 9 with four RBIs, three runs scored, a double and two home runs.
Bearden has saved the best for her last year on campus, setting career-highs in all major hitting categories. Her 14 home runs and 39 RBIs lead the team and she sits third on the team in plate appearances and games started. She had 16 RBIs in her career before this season.
The Lady Vols will try to get back to an aggressive approach when they play the Tennessee State softball team. The coaches have preached an attacking mentality all year and the Lady Vols will need to get back to that as they try to avoid an upset.
The first of the two games on Wednesday is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. and the second game will be played after. The Lady Vols will then travel to Oxford, Miss. this weekend for a date with the Ole Miss softball team.